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One Negative Habit That is Keeping You Stuck


There is one consistent negative habit of people who remain stuck at their current level of performance.

There is one common trait of people who never break through to the next level.

It’s that they don’t measure their progress.

They don’t track their performance.

This one error in judgement can singlehandedly account for the failure of many people to grow because they never know where they stand.

And because they never know where they stand they can’t make the necessary adjustments along the way as needed to their strategy to produce actual results.

If you’re going to create a transformation in your life you have to measure your progress.

If you want to lose weight don’t be afraid of the scale or of counting your calories.

If you want to grow sales don’t be afraid of tracking your daily activity or of reviewing your sales pipeline.

If you want to get out of debt don’t be afraid of looking at your bank statement or financial records.

You have to know where you stand.

Sure it might be painful at first but you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Successful people measure. They know their ratios. They know where they are compared to their goals and they adjust accordingly.

In fact if you want to get in better shape, the daily habit of getting on a scale will in and of itself can be the first step of moving you in the right direction.

If you want to increase your sales, the daily habit of recording your activity will in and of itself can be the first step of moving you in the right direction.

If you want to become debt free, the weekly habit of balancing your checkbook will in and of itself can be the first step of moving you in the right direction.

If you aren’t measuring something, then you’re simply “hoping” it will workout.

Hope is a good thing.

Hope is a necessary thing.

But hope isn’t a strategy.

Measurement is a strategy.

Management is a strategy.

Interpreting and adjusting is a strategy.

So whatever it is that you’re doing…

Whatever it is that you’re pursuing…

Whatever it is that you’re transforming…

Don’t be afraid to measure.

Why Cheat Days Never Work and How to Create Real Change


“Cheat days” don’t work.

Because “cheat days” fly directly in the face of what actually creates sustainable behavior change.

The concept of a “cheat day” is that you “reward” yourself for one day as the result of “depriving” yourself for all the other days.

But cheat days don’t reward you; they ruin you.

Not only is it just a waste to undo all of your progress you’ve made the rest of the time, the worst part is the thinking behind a cheat day is completely destructive.

You can’t create sustainable self discipline and behavioral change through the strategy of self-denial.

Self-denial doesn’t tackle the root of the problem.

Self-denial is convincing yourself to use willpower to give up something that you have convinced yourself that you really want.

There are 2 problems with that strategy:

  1. At some point your will power is likely to run out because you’ll be tired, or sick, or convince yourself that you’ve done something that makes you “deserve” the thing you’re trying to keep yourself from.
  2. As long as you’re convinced you really want it, you’re brain will constantly unconsciously be looking for ways for you to get it – even if you are consciously trying to avoid it.

So how do you create real, meaningful, sustainable and lasting behavior change?

It’s simple.

You don’t “deny” yourself.

You “re-program” yourself.

You have to convince yourself that you don’t really want it… now or ever.

You have to change the way you think about the thing that you currently want.

You have to literally form new neural pathways in your brain that tell you what to think (and feel) whenever you think about that thing.

The number one first step to doing that is to change your self talk about that thing.

You stop saying “if I’m good about not having ___ now, then I can indulge and have it later.”

You start saying “I don’t even like _____ because it has ______ and _____ negative affects on my life.”

You retrain your brain. You use what we at Southwestern would refer to as “Self-Talk.”

You keep repeating it over and over until one day you “actually” really don’t want the thing that you used to.

Similar to forming a new path in the wild woods, it’s hard and slow at first, but the more you work at it, the more clearly the path forms. Until one day the new path becomes so ingrained and automatic that you forget the old path was ever even there.

Is this hard? Yes.

Does this take work? Yes.

Does it require intention? Yes.

But so does exercising short term will power.

The only difference is that this is actually sustainable for the long run.

This strategy will actually change your life.

Because it starts by changing the way you think about a thing, but that then quickly adapts to influencing your actual physiological attraction to the thing.

The first time I said I no longer liked fast food, it seemed like a terrible thing to say! I didn’t believe it. I knew I was “lying” to myself.

But your brain is a funny thing in that it doesn’t believe what is true or false; your brain simply believes whatever you tell it most often.

So after you say it over and over again you eventually start to believe it. Until one day, your desire for that thing has truly disappeared.

That’s when everything changes.

Because you don’t have to “deny” yourself anything anymore. Because at that point you really don’t want it! You don’t spend any time thinking about having it. You don’t feel like you’re missing out on it. And you really, truly, are more aware of the negative impacts of the thing than you are about whatever short term part you used to like about it.

Plus, while it’s nearly impossible to deny yourself of something that you know you really want; it’s nearly inevitable that you’ll automatically stay away from things you really don’t want.

The thing doesn’t change. It’s your mindset about the thing that changes. And once your mind about the thing changes, you’ll see that your body’s response to the thing will also change.

And trying to temporarily increase your willpower will never be as effective as permanently changing your taste buds.

So don’t deny yourself and find yourself in a constant never ending battle to find willpower.

Instead, reprogram yourself to make a permanent and proactive change into becoming the person you truly want to deign yourself to be.

Change your thinking about something and you will change your life.

11 Ways to Lose Weight: Without Spending Time, Money, Energy, or even DOING Anything

At my Nashville church this past weekend I ran into a buddy of mine named Wayne that I hadn’t seen in a while. I noticed from across the room that he looked amazing. It looked as though he had lost at least 15 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I went up to him and told him how wonderful he looked and that I was so excited for him. And being a nosey self-discipline strategist I, of course, had to ask, “How’d you do it?”

Wayne’s answers were simple. They didn’t involve anything dramatic like taking magic pills, working out 4 hours per day or becoming Vegan (although I have been one for almost a year now and found out this week on the show that Bob from The Biggest Loser is, too!). In fact the things that Wayne said reminded me very much of what I went through from December of 2004 to June of 2005 where I went from 215 pounds down to 175 – which is where I have stayed at since.

Most of the people who know me now don’t believe me when I tell them the story about my personal weight so I grabbed a couple old pictures to show you what I’m talking about. I do carry weight well but make no mistake, I was at a point beyond what I was proud of.

What was powerful about talking with Wayne (other than just being totally energized from seeing his success) was that I remembered that so much of making changes in our life that improve our self-discipline can be less about what we need to start doing and more about what we need to STOP doing.

So here is a list of self-discipline rules related to losing weight that I followed rigorously that had a tremendous impact on making changes in my life. Most of these have become habit and I still follow them about 98% except for the occasional splurge. As I wrote on Twitter the other day “As you mature in your self-discipline your appetite changes; what was once a sacrifice later won’t even be a temptation.”

  1. Don’t eat fast food from any fast food chain.
  2. Don’t eat within 3 hours of going to bed. IE if you go to sleep at 11pm, then don’t eat after 8pm.
  3. Don’t drink anything other than water or green tea during the day on weekdays.
  4. Don’t drink carbonated beverages.
  5. Don’t eat white bread.
  6. Don’t have dessert.
  7. Don’t have anything other than fruit for breakfast.
  8. Don’t eat so much in one meal that you feel “stuffed.”
  9. Don’t eat your plate clean at every meal.
  10. Don’t have candy bars, chips, cookies, or any baked pastries.
  11. Don’t eat fewer than 4 times per day.

Congratulations, Wayne!! Keep it up. You inspire me, brother. And now, hopefully you will inspire others.

See you in the stairwell,

Rory Vaden
Take the Stairs – Success means doing things you don’t want to do